My house was created as a place of retreat - no T.V., no internet and for some reason cellphones don't work here most of the time. People stay here for a few days to unwind, disconnect, renew & return to their lives with more clarity and purpose perhaps. Offering my home this way helps me to pay the bills, but more importantly it gives life - to me and to the people who share this space for a brief time. I stay elsewhere while the house guests are here. Inevitably, when I return, my heart fills up - usually until it spills over in tears. People are amazing when they are allowed the time and space to be amazing. I have a guest book where people have written songs, poems, and lovely thank you notes. Over time, my home itself has become a sort of guest book. It is taking on a life of it's own as each person that enters leaves something of themselves here - sometimes in just the way they've folded the towels, left a walking stick by the door, weeded part of the garden or eaten every last one of my favourite Morning Rounds with a note saying, "They were too good. We had to eat them all." Other times, someone has felt moved to leave an item or artwork in the house or to send something along in the mail after their stay. Everytime I sit here and say to myself - "People are amazing."
When I tell my friends about this they say "Well, you've created a wonderful space for people so of course you're attracting amazing people." I get that in part. My day job as a spiritual director is very much about creating space - a space for people to sift through the details of their lives and find what is life giving and what may be draining the life out of them, what feels connecting for them and where they are resisting connection, and how their struggles are affecting and shaping them. We discuss & share practices that support them to be grounded, conscious, intentional and sometimes, to stay sane! But, we talk about things. They share, I listen, they reflect, I give perspective. When people enter the retreat house, there is no verbal communication between us. I leave. They enter.
I find myself wondering what it would be like if everywhere we went felt like we were entering into a welcoming, inclusive, and inspiring retreat space. As I go over in my mind some places that I frequent, I realize that they are full of amazing people. This is where I meet up with a local farmer, artist, musician or someone who is exploring their passion and purpose. I see posters about local fundraising events, ads for holistic services, pictures of the pet of the week from a local rescue shelter, and opportunities to volunteer or serve the community in some way. At the same time, my mind wanders into spaces I've been where I felt no inspiration and a lack of authenticity, places that increased my level of stress or decreased my sense of worth, my sense of self.
A space can take on many forms. It can be a retreat house, a private confidential session or a place outside in the natural world. It can also be a space created in time - where we listen to someone's story, sit down with some art supplies or a musical instrument, do some stretching or meditation or to be quiet and still. A space can also be created by opening up our hearts and minds - to a new idea, a fresh way of seeing, an alternative view or simply by making room for someone to be their best, to offer their gifts, to shine. People are amazing if we create a space for them to be amazing. You are amazing if you allow yourself the space in which to be amazing. Be amazing. Be amazed.
Soul in the World